There really aren’t words to describe the hopeless devastation that is miscarriage. But if I had to choose one, it would be heartbroken.
Deep down inside, it feels like something is broken. And no matter how many people want you to move on and get over it, sometimes you just can’t rush the process.
This has been the hardest blog post for me to write. Especially since everything is still so raw.
Since my loss has been engulfed in the coincidence of falling close to Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, I feel compelled to become a martyr to a cause that still has me nailed to its cross.
Also, because I have worked with so many of you beautiful women who have shared your stories with me, and because of you I do not feel alone.
Miscarriage is a deeply emotional, deeply meaningful, and deeply personal experience. Every time we share our story, it exposes us to a deep level of vulnerability. But it is something that needs to be shared. The more we talk about these things, the safer the topic will become, and more people will know how to respond.
Never, in all of my life, have I ever felt so surrounded by people, but completely isolated at the same time.
I am going to share my story. And my hope is that if I can help one of you know you are not alone, then it was worth it.
Rewinding back. After trying for quite some time, around the beginning of August is when I believe I conceived. All was going pretty well aside from the bit of shock when I saw the positive pregnancy test. I honestly felt like it was never going to happen, but it did.
When I saw that test, I had so many emotions I didn’t know which one to process first. The one thing I knew for sure was I immediately felt different. Like my body was no longer my own. And it was the most amazing, scary, perplexing reaction I have ever experienced.
Since this was my very first pregnancy, I wanted to get in with my doctor right away. Normally you are told to wait until about 8-10 weeks until your first appointment. But my dr is awesome, and was excited too so he said I can come for my first appointment at 6 weeks.
During that appointment, everything went great! I was still very early, but my Dr. was able to see my baby’s heartbeat during my scan. This is usually a very good sign in the early stages of pregnancy, and your risk of miscarriage decreases. After that appointment, my fears about pregnancy started to fade and I started experiencing some normal pregnancy symptoms. Tender breasts, nausea, fatigue, etc…
Fast forward two weeks, I started feeling really crappy. Every morning was a struggle getting out of bed, it literally felt like I was hit by a truck. I wasn’t sure if this was normal, but I didn’t worry too much because I had an appointment coming up. When I went in for my 8 week scan, the very last thing on my mind was hearing what I was about to hear. “I am so sorry Jess, I wish I didn’t have to say this but I do not see a heartbeat here anymore. I was hoping we would see it today, but it’s not here. “ Everything else after that sentence was a blur. When I first found out I remember not wanting to utter a word about it, repeating it would make it real.
Natural Miscarriage Vs. D&C
My two options were to either
(A) Wait to miscarry naturally at home.
(B) Schedule an appointment for a D & C.
For me the thought of waiting to miscarry at home naturally seemed too much to bear. It could be days or weeks for my body to realize my pregnancy was no longer viable. So the next day I called my doctor and we scheduled a d&c for the following week on Tuesday.
Dilation and curettage (D&C) is a procedure to remove tissue from inside your uterus. Doctors perform dilation and curettage to diagnose and treat certain uterine conditions — such as heavy bleeding — or to clear the uterine lining after a miscarriage or abortion. *Mayo Clinic Definition
During that week, I was a nervous wreck, and did lots of googling and praying. Was the doctor mistaken, would I miscarry any second, why do miscarriages happen, do they double check a heartbeat before a d&c, etc…
Monday morning I received my confirmation of everything my doctor had told me. When I went to pee, I felt a gush of blood. I felt like that was God’s way of letting me know beforehand that my Dr. was not wrong, and that I in fact had what they call a “missed miscarriage.”
The following day, I still ended up going for the procedure since I didn’t pass everything. I’ve never wanted a day to never come and be over with at the same time.
The hardest part of the procedure for me was being alone. With Covid restrictions, I had to report to the hospital all alone without anyone with me. Matt and my mom did wait for me in the car, but it wasn’t the same.
My doctor, God bless him, promised he would be there when they put me to sleep. He delivered and was there holding my hand while the anesthesiologist and nurses prepped me for surgery.
Although I am still recovering from my procedure, I think if I had to re-do this I would have made the same choice and went the d&c route.
A lot of people do not realize this but miscarriage is not only extremely traumatic but can be immensely painful. Almost like giving birth but with no reward. It’s also something that is not spoken about or something we like to even think about. A lot of times women haven’t even announced their news of being pregnant before disaster strikes. And then they’re left explaining. “Well, I was pregnant. Now I’m not.”
For what seems a small number of women, miscarriage is easy to recover from. It happens, they heal, and it really only ever gets mentioned if the topic of miscarriage comes up. But for the large majority, it is a tremendous loss, that feels no different than just losing a member of their family.
Being that October is the month of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness, and since miscarriage is common. I think it’s important we have these conversations about it so that women who go through this get the support they need.
What not to say to someone who just had a miscarriage.
If someone close to you has just had a miscarriage or lost their baby, and you want to help them. I wanted to make a bullet list so you know what and what not to say. Remember when someone is experiencing trauma, they process information differently than under normal circumstances. Some people handle things “better” than others. What you mean is not necessarily what they hear. Try to put yourself in the shoes of the traumatized. Imagine how they could negatively spin any words you say. Because usually negativity is a grievers default. If they put a positive out there, go with it, but try not to push.
- Beginning a sentence with at least. “At least, your baby was only the size of a (blank). I’m sure there was something wrong with the baby. At least you know you can get pregnant. At least it happened when…” All of these statements minimize what your friend or loved one is going through. Unfortunately there is no silver lining to pregnancy or infant loss. And your loved one is most likely not in the place to process on the “bright side”.
What to try instead: “I know your going through a lot right now, but I just want you to know I am here if you need a listening ear.”
- “When are you going to try again? Next time will be different.” “Don’t be discouraged.” “What caused the miscarriage?” When people don’t know what to say sometimes they ask a lot of questions. Some of us are terrified to try again, and others get right back up to try again. Some women spent years trying to get pregnant in the first place, or have just went through rounds and rounds of fertility treatments to get that positive result.
What to try instead: “Is there anything that I can do to help support you right now?
- “This is really common.” While this is very true. Most times the person affected already knows how common it is, as they’ve just spent hours researching the bajillion reasons why and how this could have happened. When hearing that miscarriage happens all the time, it minimizes the accompanying grief. Like if losing a pregnancy matters less because it happens often.
What to try instead: “You are not alone. We love you and we loved your baby. Take the time you need to grieve.
- Projectjng your beliefs on someone.: “Everything happens for a reason.” “You are strong, you will be fine.” “This wasn’t God’s plan.”
What to try instead: “I’ll be saying prayers for you during this time as you grieve.”
The next time you encounter someone who is grieving, remember that it is not your job to fix them. We as humans tend to want to fix anything we see as “broken”. What they need most is to know that you are there and care about them.
40% of women who have miscarriages report that they have felt alone.
And I want to reiterate, this is not to shame anyone who may have said some harmful things to their loved ones who are grieving. We ALL say things that aren’t so helpful in times where there just aren’t many good words to express how we feel.
But knowing the kind of things that are hurtful, open us up to choosing more helpful responses in the future.
I want thank you for taking the time to read my story. And if you are going through something similar and want to share your story, please always feel free to email or call. The most important thing is to know you are never alone. I have found the most amazing support mostly through strangers and acquaintances over the past couple of weeks.
I’ll leave off by reminding those of you who are now expecting your rainbow babies. (I now have an even more special place in my heart for them.) We do offer a free rainbow baby shoot a month to a deserving family. And for everyone else I’ll be waiting for your rainbows and mine too.
Blessings to you,
“Don’t let them say, I wasn’t born
That something stopped my heart
I felt each tender squeeze you gave
I’ve loved you from the start.
Although my body you can’t hold,
It doesn’t mean I’m gone.
This world was worthy, not, of me
God chose that I move on.
I know the pain that drowns your soul,
What you are forced to face.
You have my word, I’ll fill your arms
Someday we will embrace.
You’ll hear that it was ‘meant to be,
God doesn’t make mistakes’
But that won’t soften your worst blow.
Or make your heart not ache.
I’m watching over all you do,
another child you’ll bear.
Believe me when I say to you,
That I am always there.
There will come a time, I promise you
When you will hold my hand,
Stroke my face and kiss my lips
And then you’ll understand.
Although, I’ve never breathed your air,
Or gazed into your eyes.
That doesn’t mean I never ‘was’
An Angel Never Dies”